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The Independent Critic

Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Cillian Murphy, and Emily Mortimer
Sally Potter
71 Mins.
Roadside Attractions


 "The Party" Opens in Indy on March 9th 
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In writer/director Sally Potter's darkly comical The Party, a familiar set-up pays high dividends for the breezy 71-minute film arriving in Indy at the Landmark Keystone Art Cinema on March 9th courtesy of indie distributor Roadside Attractions. 

In the film, Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) is hosting a dinner party to celebrate her political ascension, an intimate, sophisticated soiree in her London home alongsider her semingly pre-occupied husband Bill (Timothy Spall). Soon, Janet's acerbic BFF, April (Patricia Clarkson), arrives and others follow. As friends gather, some arrive with their own dramatic news to share while Bill's unexpected announcement leads to even greater revelations and the sophisticated soiree soon turns more than a little insane. 

To be sure, the "dinner party gone awry" theme isn't exactly a new one. The Party is the kind of film that is most destined to appeal to the more patient moviegoer, its inherent staginess enhanced greatly by Potter's absolutely stellar ensemble cast and black-and-white lensing that fuels the film's sharp, precise dialogue delivered with excellence by the sharpshooting cast of stage and cinematic vets. 

Those familiar with Potter's previous films, such as Orlando and Ginger and Rosa, will likely marvel at this unexpectedly loose and breezy production that finds Potter with humor intact as she explores themes both personal and political. For the most part, Clarkson steals the show here with razor sharp line delivery and body language that drives her words home. As April's boyfriend, Bruno Ganz initially seems like a mismatch but Clarkson and Ganz do a nice job of filling in the gaps. Cherry Jones is spot-on as Martha, a middle-aged women's studies professor whose younger partner, Jinny (Emily Mortimer), arrives with some pretty major news of her own. Cillian Murphy's coke-snorting Tom adds more than a little bit of an edge to the festivities. 

The Party is a master class in acting, less concerned with cohesive narrative than it is with the interplay between characters and dialogue that makes you lean into it and pay attention. The film's single locale is both claustrophobic and intimate, that intimacy at times jarring and other times just downright unnerving. 

Destined to satisfy those who appreciate live theater the most, The Party is an electric, sizzling film that practically makes up for the stilted dialogue that plagued Potter's Ginger and Rosa. With an ensemble cast absent of a weak link, The Party is practically tailor-made for Landmark's seventh screen where it will screen in Indy with a befitting closeness that will make you feel like you've become one of the party before you start to wonder if that's really a good thing. 

For more information on The Party, visit the film's website linked to in the credits. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic